Two and a half years from LAPSO we are starting to see its impact. It was only recently reported by First4Lawyers that advertising spend by claimant lawyers as they battle for business has reached £76m a year. Of greater interest however is that 85% of this spending power has consolidated down to the top 10 participating firms, a clear indicator that LASPO is starting to bite. Additionally it is reportedly the case that half of the 30 players using TV advertising have since stopped.
While the top 10 advertisers will be distributing work through more than 10 law firms, new work has clearly consolidated in terms of being directed at an ever decreasing number of firms.
But what of the thousands of firms that aren’t part of the 85%? Some will have carved out a niche marketing plan, possibly online, and will still be attracting sufficient new work to remain financially viable when combined with cost restructuring etc. For many, however, it has been a case of ‘survive as best one can’ while pre-LASPO work continues to throw off cash. By now, pre-LASPO case numbers will have been substantially eroded and with potentially larger cases left, cash flow becomes spikey. Some firms are turning to peer-to-peer lending or secondary funding to allow them to continue for a further period before they will ultimately have to deal with the underlying issues. However, many are now dealing with the reality of the post-LASPO world and making conscious decisions to exit the market.
Before LASPO and the referral fee ban, all firms participated in the marketing spend in roughly the same proportions as the amount of new work taken on. The ability to pay for a specific piece of work, packaged up and ready for the legals to commence has gone. Marketing spend has now become speculative and as seen by the figures released by First4Lawyer, is becoming polarised into a very small number of organisations.
With roughly the same number of new claimants, some will argue it is not necessarily a good thing that the funnel is becoming too narrow, yet it is the reality of the current market. More and more firms are recognising this and taking positive action to address their own circumstances. The reduction in the numbers participating in the marketing of legal services, in respect of claimant personal injury, may well be a strong indication that the consolidation in the number of legal firms offering such services is about to accelerate.
If considering change, as always seek independent counsel as early as possible from specialist in the legal sector as it is nigh near impossible to something brilliantly if you’ve never done it before. A directory of such businesses is available at www.pi-solutions.co.uk/directory